New X-E1 Reviews (and comparison with the 5D MarkIII)

Image credit: Martin Doppelbauer

Photographer Martin Doppelbauer decided to make a somewhat unbalanced comparison: The [shoplink 678]Fuji X-E1 (price & specs)[/shoplink] vs Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III (price & specs). Sounds unfair? Well, given the amazing performance of the X-E1 there are good reasons to be curious. He shot in RAW, using Capture One (Version 7.0.2) to develop the files of both cameras.

The review is not just a comparison between Canon’s full-frame champ and the X-E1, it is also a review that highlights the strengths and the weak points of the X-E1. Trying to shot at the same ISO settings showed some strange behaviour of the X-E1:

The true ISO value is considerably lower than the displayed value. I have performed some tests in comparison with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, whose metering works particularly accurate according to When the X-E1 is set to the same aperture and ISO values, the camera determines a much longer exposure time than the Canon. The extension factor was in average 1.75 (with variations from 1.62 to 2.0), which is equal to three quarter exposure stops (EV).
There are reproducible differences between the various ISO levels. The lower values from ISO 200 to 1600 are too weak by about two third exposure levels (EV) on average. The two highest values ​​(ISO 3200 and 6400), however, deviate by one full exposure value (EV).
This means for example, that the X-E1 works with a real ISO 125 when set to ISO 200 and a real ISO 3200 when set to ISO 6400. This will provide for very good noise performance results in comparative tests in magazines or websites. In reality, however, the noise performance of the X-E1 is actually good but not as phenomenal as it seems. The Fuji always has to select almost double the ISO value compared to properly tuned cameras for a given scene, aperture and shutter speed.

So, what about the comparison? Martin writes:

The images of the X-E1 are of such a high quality that a comparison with the full-frame EOS 5D Mark III seemed reasonable. Both cameras were tested together with their “kit zoom lenses”, the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 on the X-E1 and the 24-105 L f/4 on the Canon.

Image on top: Courstesy of Martin Doppelbauer

Some information about the setting of his test:

For fair comparison the settings of both camera systems should be largely identical. This affects focal length, depth of field and exposure (ISO and shutter speed). Due to the different sensor sizes and Fuji’s exaggerated ISO numbers the matter is not so easy.

Focal length and depth of field (aperture) is converted to the crop factor, i.e. with 1.5. For example, a focal length of 23.3 mm on the X-E1 corresponds to the popular 35 mm on a full frame sensor. An aperture of f/5.6 on the Fuji gives a similar depth of field as f/8 at the Canon. I have always reduced the ISO values by 2/3rd steps on the EOS 5D Mark III.

All images were shot in RAW format and developed with Capture One 7.0.2. In some of the X-E1’s pictures the white balance was adjusted according to the EOS 5D, which I generally found slightly more accurate. All other parameters of the RAW software were left at their default values​​, which is particularly important when comparing noise performance.

The X-E1 can’t (obviously) hold up to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Never the less,it is interesting to see how well the Fuji performs, and how little is missing to get an almost full-frame like performance. Quoting Martin’s conclusion:

Regarding resolution: It is to be noted that the EOS 5D Mark III (with its low-pass filter) records visibly more details than the X-E1 (without the filter), even though the pixel count of the Canon in horizontal and vertical axis is just higher by 18%. Obviously the omission of the alias filter does not help the X-E1 to increase resolution much.


The X-E1 is a camera with impressive mechanical and optical quality and great usability. Its images come close in quality to the EOS 5D Mark III over a wide range of ISO settings.
It is pleasing to hold the camera and taking pictures is great fun. Operation of the X-E1 comes close to classical range finder cameras. The Fuji is perhaps not for casual shooters, but photographers who deliberately compose their images will have great pleasure. For them the slightly slow autofocus will not mean much. After all, it regularly nails sharpness right to the point.

I gladly confess that I was never annoyed by moiré artifacts in real shooting situations. If present at all they were rare and weak. [Update 2013-01-19: I was out shooting in the snow today. Snow-covered trees in bright sunlight are good for great pictures. But I also got a pretty significant amount of colored artifacts.

So, I let it up to you to check pics and to compare them. There are a lot (really a lot) of sample images in Martin’s post, as well as test shots of the Siemens star for better understanding of moiré and aliasing artifacts.

Some more X-E1 tidbits:

Fuji X-E1 price check: [shopcountry 678]

Canon EOS 5D Mark III price check: Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&H | Adorama

[via Martin Doppelbauer]

(UPDATED) Fuji firmware updates delayed to fix a glitch.


Last Thursday Fuji UK unveiled that the new Firmware updates for the XPRO1, X-E1 and 35mm X lens would be released on January 18th (Click here to see the cached site). But the firmware release has been postponed because of a small software issue that will be fixed soon. As a reminder here you have them:

Fujifilm X-Pro1 – firmware version: 2.03 Changes:
* Allows compatibility with the new “XF14mmF2.8R” lens.
* Improved performance of Auto Focus under various shooting conditions.

Fujifilm X-E1 – firmware version: 1.04 Changes:
* Allows compatibility with the new “XF14mmF2.8R” lens.
* Shutter release button now works when an external remote release is connected.
* Improved performance of Auto Focus under various shooting conditions.
* Audio performance has been optimised for the new Stereo Microphone MIC-ST1 (sold separately).

FUJINON XF35mm – firmware version: 2.02 Change:
* Improved accuracy of Auto Focus performance.


A Little Bit Of Everything


Fujinon XF lens XF 14mm F2.8 R In Stock In Japan

[shoplink 6300 ebay][/shoplink]

The brand new Fujinon XF lens XF 14mm F2.8 R is in stock on eBay in Japan for [shoplink 6300 ebay]$1,097 (click here)[/shoplink].

More pre-order option for the Fujinon XF lens XF 14mm F2.8 R (expected availability January 31 2013): B&H | Adorama. You may also want to check Rico’s post about using the 14mm clicking here.


  • Fast, Ultra Wide-Angle Prime Lens
  • 21mm Focal Length Equivalency
  • f/2.8-22 Aperture Range
  • Molded Aperture Diaphragm Blades
  • Great Perspective, Minimal Distortion
  • Fits Fujifilm X-Pro-1 Digital Camera

Product description from B&H’s page:

The XF 14mm f/2.8 R Ultra Wide-Angle Lens from Fujifilm is designed for its X-Pro 1 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera System. This is the fourth prime lens Fujifilm has introduced for the X-Pro 1 and its widest focal length to date. Its 35mm focal length equivalency is 21mm and its angle of view is 89º. Landscape vistas, architectural shots, interiors and even street photography will benefit from the creative perspective and minimized distortion that this lens offers. Light is evenly distributed from the center to the edge of the frame and it retains excellent contrast and high resolution with little fall-off or distortion toward the edges. Its f/2.8 maximum aperture and wide angle mean fast shutter speeds are possible even in minimal light and fast, smooth autofocus is there when needed. The aperture diaphragm blades on all XF lenses are curved and the edge of each blade is rounded rather than cut-off creating a more pleasing effect to your image, especially in terms of the background bokeh. Focus distance and depth-of-field scales are printed on the focus ring to aid composition when emphasizing depth of field.

The XF 14mm f/2.8 lens offers high-quality optics and an extreme wide-angle perspective to explore your creativity with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 digital camera.

Wide angle perspective with 21mm focal length equivalency
High resolution from the center of the image to its periphery

Molded aperture blades and rounded diaphragm opening create pleasing bokeh


Using the XF14mmF2.8 R


by Rico Pfirstinger

Fujifilm kept their promise and started delivery of the new XF14mmF2.8 R wide-angle prime lens on January, 19. Many customers all over the web have already received their lens on Saturday, and I am one of them. So how’s the lens doing? Most of you will already have looked at my pre-production sample pics or may have read about how well the lens is optically corrected, so let’s focus on using the lens on your existing X-Mount camera.

14mmF2.8_R_FUJINON XF Lens

Updating the camera firmware

Let’s start with finding the new camera firmware that’s required to make all features of the lens work properly. It’s rather old school: The box contains an SD card (2 GB in my case) holding camera firmware upgrades for both the X-E1 and X-Pro1, named FWUP0001.DAT and FPUPDATE.DAT, respectively. Just insert the SD card into your camera (the card should be write-protected by default), then switch it on while pressing and holding the DISP/BACK button. Now follow the instructions on the display to update the camera body firmware. The new firmware versions supporting the 14mm lens are 1.03 for the X-E1 and 2.02 for the X-Pro1. Both versions will soon be replaced by a another upgrade from the global Fujifilm website, though.

A recent Fuji guideline recommends not to have a lens attached to the camera while updating the camera body’s firmware. This is a reversal from previous policy and was specifically issued for the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit zoom lens, but I guess it won’t hurt to follow this new procedure with all current XF lenses.

Lens hood

You may have noticed that the hood that comes with the new 14mm lens is the same that’s coming with the kit zoom, so they are fully interchangeable. If you have space constraints in your equipment bag, you can just bring along one hood for both lenses, as you probably won’t be using both of them at the same time.

Focus ring

A unique feature of the 14mm lens is a new focus ring with engraved distance and DOF (depth-of-field) markings and hard stops at each end of the manual distance scale. In order to use the focus ring and see all markings, it has to be unlocked by sliding the ring backwards. Once you do so, the lens and the camera will automatically enter manual focus (MF) mode. Slide the ring forward to relock it. This returns the lens and the camera back to the mode that’s set on the camera’s own AF mode selector dial.

Please note that the AF-L button will not focus the lens with One-Press-AF when the focus ring of the lens is set to MF mode. However, you can still use One-Press-AF by setting only the camera to MF and leaving the focus ring of the lens in its AF position. Personally, I find this a bit complicated and would like to be able to use One-Press-AF when both the camera and the lens are set to MF.

Distance and DOF scales

With this new 14mm lens, you get two different distance/DOF scales indicating the depth-of-field and focus distance of a shot. Apart from the conventional “digital” distance/DOF scale in the camera’s viewfinder or LCD, there’s also an “analog” scale engraved in the lens. However, the digital scale in the viewfinder will disappear once you set either the lens or the camera to MF mode. This means we are getting no more distance or DOF readings while we are looking through the camera viewfinder or at the LCD.

This is the lens in MF mode, showing the analog distance and DOF readings. Yep, it really looks like in the old days…


But wait, there’s more! The digital and analog DOF scales do not match. While the digital scale is still based on the camera’s established, very conservative circle of confusion (CoC) of about 0.005mm, the analog scale on the lens barrel uses a less strict CoC of about 0.01mm. The digital version of the scale is still available in both AF modes (AF-S, AF-C), but it disappears once the lens or the camera are set to MF mode.

Manual focus and “focus peaking”

When you enter MF mode (by sliding the focus ring back, or by selecting MF on the camera, or both), you can use the magnifier tool by pressing the camera’s command dial (aka thumb wheel). Turn the dial to the left or right to choose between a 3x or 10x magnification level. The 3x option offers a “poor man’s focus peaking” feature, as it crisply outlines edges of objects that are in focus. This feature isn’t really new (it was part of the X-Pro1’s version 2.00 firmware update), but it doesn’t work equally well with all focal lengths and magnification levels. However, it does work well with this 14mm lens and the 3x magnification option of the magnifier tool. So use it to your benefit, and don’t worry: It works just as fine with the EVF in the X-E1 as with the less sophisticated EVF in the X-Pro1.

Using the OVF

Speaking of the X-Pro1: The 14mm lens is compatible with the optical viewfinder in the X-Pro1! It just fits the full (aka 85%) frame of the OVF, and the lens is also supported by the camera’s AF field parallax correction when used in AF mode. Consider this when you are thinking about whether to buy this lens or the upcoming Carl Zeiss 12mm AF lens. With quite some certainty, the latter won’t fit into the optical viewfinder’s field of view.

Handling and usability

Using the XF14mmF2.8 R in manual focus mode may be a mixed bag for some users: While most will appreciate the “traditional” focus ring with its hard end stops and engraved distance and DOF markings, offering two different DOF displays based on two different circles of confusion may, well, confuse some less-experienced photographers. Of course, many users have asked Fuji for a less conservative DOF scale (especially for zone focusing purposes), so this was obviously a deliberate decision to accommodate such wishes.

Since there are no distance or DOF indicators displayed in the viewfinder or LCD once the lens or camera are set to MF, you have to use the readings that are engraved in the lens. That may be hard to accomplish while you are busy looking through the viewfinder trying to frame a shot, and the engraved numbers could be difficult to read in dark surroundings. So from a usability standpoint (and admittedly not being much of a zone focus guy), I’d be just as happy with the 14mm being a “conventional” XF lens like the previous models. But that’s just me.

Manual focus with the focus ring is still “fly-by-wire”, meaning there’s no helicoil. That said (I’m already hearing the moaning from the usual suspects), manual focusing feels smooth and direct. Quite obviously, Fujifilm meant this lens to be used for zone focusing in MF mode. This is how it works: Preset a suitable aperture, focus distance and DOF on the lens barrel, then forget about focusing while framing the shot in the viewfinder and hunting for the decisive moment.

Auto focus works pretty fast (no surprise at 14mm focal length), even though it’s only powered by a traditional AF motor with low noise emissions. Like the kit zoom, I’d consider this lens to be very well built and a joy to operate and handle. It’s light-weight, and it delivers stunning results. This, of course, is the most important aspect.

Happy shooting, and have a nice week!

PS: I have just added a few more samples to my RAW converter comparison.

Rico Pfirstinger studied communications and has been working as journalist, publicist, and photographer since the mid-80s. He has written a number of books on topics as diverse as Adobe PageMaker and sled dogs, and produced a beautiful book of photographs titled Huskies in Action (German version). He has spent time working as the head of a department with the German Burda-Publishing Company and served as chief editor for a winter sports website. After eight years as a freelance film critic and entertainment writer in Los Angeles, Rico now lives in Germany and devotes his time to digital photography and compact camera systems. His book “Mastering the FUJIFILM X-Pro1” (Kindle Edition) (Apple iBook Store) (German version) is available on Amazon and offers a plethora of tips, secrets and background information on successfully using Fuji’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 system cameras, lenses and key accessories.